Stringfever members Ralph (left), Neal, Giles, and Graham Broadbent (seated) play Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" on the electric cello. The musical family has brought its classical training to the realm of electric stringed instruments, making for a unique stage show.
Brothers Giles (clockwise, from left), Ralph, Neal, and cousin Graham make up the string quartet Stringfever. The group will be performing at the Clemens Fine Arts Center on March 9.
What do you get when you have four family members playing Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” on one electric cello?
At first, a few squabbles over personal hygiene, according to Ralph Broadbent, who makes up one quarter of the musical group Stringfever.
Broadbent said that dispute has long been settled among the group, which includes his older brother Giles, younger brother Neal and cousin Graham.
Now, the four musicians focus their energy on entertaining audiences with an inventive, humorous show that incorporate five- and six-stringed electric violins, a viola, and a cello.
The Broadbents grew up surrounded by music, Ralph Broadbent said. His father, Alan, was a violin instructor, while two of his uncles play stringed instruments — viola and violin — in the Welsh National Opera and the London Symphony Orchestra, respectively.
“I think when we were very young kids, we definitely knew we wanted to play the violin ... for our careers, We kind of assumed that we’d do that. But we want to do something different with it,” Broadbent said.
He said he and his brother Giles encountered a six-string electric violin during their years studying at The Royal Academy of Music in London.
The brothers played music on the streets to help pay their way through college, he said. During their travels, they ran across a man playing the electric violin on a unicycle.
“We always thought it would be fun, but we weren’t sure what we were going to do with it,” Broadbent said of the electric violin — a Violectra, created by Canadian David Bruce-Johnson — they eventually purchased.
The brothers continued their classical careers, playing electric instruments on the side, until they were asked to put together a humorous musical show.
“That was a good way of getting the group focused, and it spiraled from that point,” Broadbent said.
He noted that playing as street musicians and on the after-dinner circuit has made the group members especially sensitive to the entertainment side of music.
“You have to play music that people want to hear, grab their attention and look them in the eye. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it was good preparation for the job we’re doing now,” he said.
The 90-minute show Stringfever will at the Clemens Fine Arts Center will feature their four-man, one-cello rendition of “Bolero,” as well as an arrangement titled “The History of Music in Five Minutes,” which Broadbent said often garners the best response from the audience.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for students. For reservations, contact the box office at 270-534-3213, or visit artsinfocus.org. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641 or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.
Want to go?
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9
Where: The Clemens Fine Arts Center, at West Kentucky Community & Technical College
Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. For reservations, contact the box office at 270-534-3213 or visit artsinfocus.org.